Message From The Author

Author's Message

Questioning Matrimony


Life and literature can take unexpected turns when you least expect them to. Melissa Senate discovered this when she planned to follow up her chick-lit mystery, Love You to Death, with another adventure for columnist Abby Foote and her detective sweetheart, Ben. Senate was going through a divorce, and the issues that were spinning around in her head weren't appropriate for a couple still starry-eyed over their burgeoning romance.

"I was stuck in that 'what went wrong?' phase," says Senate. "I wanted to go back to the start: that time before you get married when you know what you know and get married anyway. I wanted to explore the why."

That journey led to Senate's latest title, June's Questions to Ask Before Marrying (Red Dress Ink). The longtime New Yorker, and former Harlequin editorial assistant, who now lives with her son in Maine, took inspiration from a 2006 New York Times article that listed 15 points of discussion -- including questions about sex, money, family and friends -- for couples before they say "I do."

"Like my character, Ruby, I thought I had the most important questions covered -- until the last one: Is your relationship strong enough to withstand challenges?" Senate says. "The article gave me the perfect title for the novel and honed the theme for me, which is that asking questions -- no matter what they are -- is the best thing you can do, not only before marrying but for anything life brings your way."

That's just what Ruby and her twin sister, Stella, do when they embark on a cross-country adventure that takes them from Maine to Las Vegas, where they search for the one-night stand whose baby Stella is now carrying. Stella may not be in a position to judge her sister's choices, but of course she does, and she thinks Ruby's made a bad match.

"Don't laugh, but Britney Spears was the inspiration for getting to Vegas," Senate discloses. "Remember when she married some guy she knew from high school, then had the marriage annulled four days later? I wanted to send my ambivalent bride-to-be to a place where a wedding could happen immediately, impulsively. You're in, you're out and then it's till death do you part. That's where the questions to ask before marriage had better come in. I'll wager my life savings that Britney didn't ask herself those questions."

Senate researched their trip with guidebooks and Google maps, but she hopes to follow in her fictional sisters' footsteps at some point. "I had a route, places to stay and see -- including the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk," she quips. "After I wrote 'the end,' I felt like I really did go. The part I'm dying to see is the last leg, southern Utah into Nevada. Must plan."

-- Diane Snyder

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